portable pump with rain barrels

jeb3669(7)January 25, 2006

I use rain barrels to water a few of my beds. I was wondering if it feasible to connect a portable pump to the barrels and use it to feed a drip system that I usually connect to my water hose. If this is possible, can anyone recommend pump specifications?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ChicagoMike(z5 IL)

I was researching a similar system for use here in Chicago to utilize rainwater. The best solution I found was an electric sump pump plugged in through a timer. The sump is cheap compared to a standard pump and secondly, has the built-in shut off if there isn't any water in the barrel, which is always a risk for these Chicago summers. Due to the situation last summer, I put a lot of hold so I never followed through but hopefully this idea will provide some fodder to you for thought. When someone suggested a sump pump to me on a timer, it moved the project forward. Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 7:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have used a pump for a similar type of thing!!! I have a pool and needed to be able to pump water off the top of my pool. So, I ordered an electric pool cover pump. I paid about $35.00. It worked so well, that we used it to pump barrels of water into our flower beds. (I live in Texas and it didn't rain at all last summer. My air conditioner dumps about 15 gallons per day. So I was collecting that water in a bucket and pumping that.) My pump runs at 300 gph.

I think a pump is definitely worth it. Search for "Swimming pool cover pumps" and you will find one that you can order.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 4:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The cost of water in the Boston area has gone through the roof to pay for the harbor cleanup, as we must also pay a sewer charge, and there is a cost step up for water/sewer rates the more water you use. This summer I plan to have in place multiple rain barrels, using a portable electric water pump to increase the pressure enough to use my hose to water all around my yard. The internet is amazing to find solutions for projects like this! The least expensive 55 gallon rain barrels I have found come from Idaho ($17.50 from www.epcontainers.net), best system to divert water from rainpipes to the barrels from Canada ($21.95 from www.gardenwaterwaver.com), and portable lawn pump to get enough water pressure to use a hose from Indiana, the Wayne 1 HP 720 GPH Portable Lawn Sprinkling Pump, Stainless #PLS100 ($135 from www.amazon.com). I looked at other pumps, but consumer ratings indicated that they did not stand up to the frequent use needed to water a yard. I wanted a portable pump to move it from barrels I have in both the front and back yards, and to bring it indoors when I'm not watering. I will have to post an update on how the system is working once the weather gets warmer. -Charlie

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 12:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This message is for charlieinneedham Before spending lots of money on a barrel look for a pickle factory or something like that. They have 55 gallon drums and they should be cheaper. Here in Florida we are able to get 55 gallon rain barrels from a pickle factory with used barrles at 12.00 a piece. If you have a county extention ask them where to get barrels

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 11:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have rain barrels in my yard and i have repiped my toilet to use water from the rain barrels to flush the toilet. I save about 300 gallons a month. I used a pump that you would find in a RV or a boat. It works great pumping and has good pressure

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 12:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I use a submersible RIGID 1/6th HP submersible pump [looks exactly like this http://www.amazon.com/Wayne-RUP160-6-Horsepower-Oilless-Submersible/dp/B0009X8O2E ]from Home Depot in my 2 barrel system, just drop it in with a garden hose attached. It sounds impressive 3000GPH, ya whatever, it produces about 20psi so not regular water pressure but it works and takes an hour to drain 110 gallons at 20psi though a sprinkler.
I was using it to power the back and forth fan sprinkler, but the screen or jets would get plugged with small debris, and it just wasn't powerful enough for the tis, tis, tis, pulse sprinkler.

I did however find a solution at a recent home show. http://www.rainforestsprinklers.com They were selling it to people with poor water pressure in the country, and who use pumps from a well and that sort of thing. It seemed perfect, so I bought the Rainforest 24" Riser Sprinkler for $20 bucks or so. Works really nicely covering a 20ft circle with 20psi. It's impressive with the regular water supply it was probably spinning 3 times faster, with a bit of mist created and a 35ft circle, but at 20psi it was a gentle rainfall and ran for 1 hour on the 2x 55 gallon drums full of water didn't get plugged once, has a fairly large hole for the water, and it was always tiny debris already ground up by the pump that came down the hose and plugged the fan sprinkler anyways, I just don't use one of those rubber o ring mesh screens with the rain barrel anymore. I'm happy with the 24" riser, and might even go with the 36" if you have a big yard, but I think the ground level one would be just too small of a water pattern with such low pressure.

Anyways I was so impressed to finally be able to water my lawn without stopping to clean out the sprinkler.... I wrote the sprinkler company this was their reply "Thanks for letting me know how well our sprinklers worked with your system and the rain barrels, we have been experimenting ourselves with them and managed to get a 15 ft diameter by just running connected to a rain barrel that was approx 12 ft higher than the sprinkler with no pump. We get many emails from people in places like Texas that couldn't run a sprinkler at all on their pressure and ours worked great for them and saved them hours of hand watering."

I would add to really shop around if your looking for a pump, most places want to sell you a pond pump that has no pressure, or tiny hoses, or a HUGE expensive jet pump that can produce 80psi and clean out your wallet, it's hard to find something in the middle cheap that takes garden hose. If I did it again maybe I would buy a bit higher HP pump, or a sump pump with a float if I could find one cheap. I think the higher HP would drain the barrels faster, but also give more PSI to run a regular sprinkler.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 12:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Jeb 3669,
You should not need a pump if your rain barrel is higher than your garden for a drip line. Depending on the drip line.

I pump my water up 10 feet, and considering using a drip line. Haven't figured out how yet. Maybe someone could give me the information.

Click on the link below.


Here is a link that might be useful: My Rain Barrels With Drill Pump

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 2:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


As I understand the drip stuff, you can use a drip line with a gravity system. It has some limitations, though. Mainly that the emitters at the end of the line might not emit as much water as the closer ones because of friction.

What you want to do is use the non pressure compensating emitters, large line and short runs.

I simply use a 5 gallon bucket and a cheap (

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 10:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Jeb 3669, Your soker hose should work if you take out the 20 PSI pressure regulator. It has a small hole in it that limits the water flow. Connect both ends (that will make a circle),and you should get better distribution of water.

Hi tn gardening, My drill pump pumps a little more than a pond pump. Drill pump 3.75 gal. per minute. Pond pump 3.10 gal. per minute. The pond pump will pump water up 7.8 feet maximum. I pump my water up 10 feet. My dril may be going faster.

What I don't know is how many emitters I would need to use to get the right pressure. And I don't know what the pressure is after pumping up 10 feet. I have 14 tomato plants that I would like to use it on. Line 50 feet long. Are you using tubing with your emitters.

I suppose I could use a hose and punch holes in it. I just don't know how much pressure it would put on the pump. Is it just trial and error, and measuring the amount of water from each hole?


    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 6:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


10 feet = 4.3 psi, which isn't a lot. Some of the PC emitters won't even work at that pressure...especially the ones that are farthest from the water source.

I do use 1/2" tubing with some 1/4" tubing for the "branches", but it is hooked up to my fountain pump. It works well enough for my setup (I have more than 14 emitters and plants).

One last thing. If you are using flexible hose (vinyl, etc) you might find there isn't enough water pressure to exit the hose. Harder pipe (poly, PVC, etc) would probably work better because you can drill holes (soft hose might actually seal itself up at 4.3 psi). There are specially designed hoses for low pressure, gravity systems. Once again, I simply fill a 5 gallon bucket from my rain barrel and hook my fountain pump up.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 7:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Tn Gardening, How did you figure the resistanse to get:
10 feet = 4.3 psi,
To water 24 tomato plants would the 4.3 psi give me too much pressure. I see where with a pressure of 20 psi they have 200 emiters. Would it just be trial and error?

I think it would be easier if it would rain.
It only takes a few minutes to water my tomatoes with the hose. Still easier than carrying a bucket up 10 feet.
A drip line would be easier if it didn't take long to water. I could put a timer on the drill to stop watering. Would it put a lot of load on the drill?


    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 9:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Forget what I said. I didn't realize that you were pumping water UP 1o feet to water your tomatoes. For some reason I thought your water source was 10 feet higher than your plants.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 11:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi all, some great ideas in here. I'm setting up a rain barrel system that I hope can feed a soaker system. I thought gravity alone would do it (system is overall pretty flat, but I am going to have the rain barrels raised on triple cinder blocks). However, with all the warnings of insufficient pressure from gravity alone to effectively push through a soaker, I am now consider a pump to add PSI.

Here's the thing though - I was hoping to run my gravity system based on a faucet timer. I.e. - have it run at 4 AM (when sleeping), and again maybe at 2 PM (when I'm working). If I add a pump, how can I sync the pump and the faucet timer? Any ideas to make this seamless?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

OK going to toss a lot out there and everyone take from it what you need.

There are three types of drip systems:
High PSI (typically 20psi+)
Low/Reduced PSI (under 20 psi...typically 6-10 BUT most of these systems have a reducer that expects you to have city water type pres. as a supply)
A true low psi drip line (havent seen one of these in quite awhile but they are easy to make)

Almost all systems most people are going to encounter are of the first type with the 2nd type being next most common. Both the first and second type should be preceded by a fliter of some type because they have micro tiny holes emitting the water and clog easy. Some of these systems are just about clogged by dust. Most sump type pumps will not achieve the proper PSI for these systems BUT that doesnt mean they wont work to some degree. But, rain water will be rather dirty and will clog most systems rather quickly without a filter and with a filter more PSI will be needed.

The third system can be just about anything with holes large enough (yet small enough) to flow under ultra low PSI. These systems greatly benifit from being looped (IE. no end to the line rather water flows in 2 directions and connects approx 1/2 way around your area) Holes have to be small enough to not dump all the water in the beginning holes yet large enough to not clog. PVC pipe with 1/16 holes would be a good starting point, or even smaller. Much trial and error with this type of system. Finding a pre-made system like this might be quite difficult and would preform very different by much much "head" presure was aquired by the water barrel being higher than the system. Remember also that how much water is in the barrel will change how they preform. Ultra low presure systems like this do not preform very accurately long term.

My strong recomendation is if your using a rain barrel system idea get a 1/2 HP self priming pump with a PSI switch and a valve. Might need a very small bladder tank to keep the PSI but you can try without (if the pump comes on and off quickly then add a tank). The only problem with this type system is running out of water. I have never had a call for this type system but it is likely someone makes a high and low PSI switch that will turn the pump off if there is zero (or next to zero) PSI.

Good luck,

PS: On a side note I am strongly opposed to soaker systems over micro spray(drip) systems. Soaker systems have many issues micro systems dont have.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 11:41PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
My sprinkler system station stopped working
Hello! I have a problem with my sprinkler system. One...
roots in pipe
Hi, I am new to this forum. I live in Idaho and we...
Need Suggestion about Iriigation System Pots
Have you heard of the eco grow pots or the irrigation...
Peter Jones
Fertigation help
ok well not new to gardening or growing things as i...
Help/Ideas for 12v watering system
I have an old well the is 4 foot around. It is 10ft...
Sponsored Products
Adagio Cottonwood Falls Fountain w/ Silver Mirror in Rustic Copper Finish
Purple Round Glass Soap Dispenser
Patio Living Concepts Lamps Black Cambridge Park Lantern Planter 430
Home Depot
Conda Silver Towel Tray
$99.00 | FRONTGATE
Picnic Time Chairs University of Richmond Navy Sports Chair with Embroidered
Home Depot
Marble Pump Dispenser
$39.90 | Horchow
Leucos | Summer Table Lamp
$436.50 | YLighting
Portable Thermoplastic Coated Handicap Accessible Round Picnic Table
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™